Thinking Critically About Media and Politics

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-04-30
  • Publisher: Routledge

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This is a textbook for self-defense against manipulation by politicians, the media, and assorted propagandists. Its interdisciplinary application of principles of critical thinking and argumentative rhetoric can be incorporated in a variety of college courses including the social sciences, communication, journalism, and media criticism. It emphasizes analysis of opposing viewpoints between conservative and liberal polemicists about some of the most controversial issues in current politics and media, such as the wealth gap between the rich, the middle class, and the poor, which is addressed at length in the concluding chapter, focusing on the rhetoric of economic arguments and use of statistics. This approach to critical thinking and rhetoric also draws from the study of semantics-emphasizing the role in argumentation of definition or denotation of key words, verbal slanting, and emotional appeal through connotative language. Semantic misunderstandings constantly result from liberals' and conservatives' different subjective viewpoints on, definitions of, and connotative spins on the very words liberal and conservative or left and right-as well as related words like democracy, capitalism, and socialism. Chapter 2 and other sections provide a basic guide to the complexities of these terms, as a critique of their ambiguous use in partisan politics and media. These sections also identify the precise political positions of a spectrum of American media and individual journalists or commentators from far left to far right, so as to point students toward sources representing opposed viewpoints, with their typical lines of argument, for comparative analysis. In contrast to most textbooks' approach to logical fallacies that assumes they result only from unintentional lapses in reasoning, this book confronts the hard truth that real-life arguments frequently are tainted by deliberate deception. Chapter 3 surveys various influences on political bias in the media, while Chapter 4 examines special pleading, conflicts of interest, invective, smearing, and hype-as propagated by sources like lobbies, public relations agencies, think tanks, advocacy, and political advertising.

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